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Old 03-08-2012   #941
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davidbfpo (summarising some nincompoop) posted "The sacrifice made is justified"

Sadly David, this is what the Brit public is being asked to accept.

The Brits went into Afghanistan on the coat tails of the yanks and in the hope of redeeming themselves after the Basra debacle.

This lunacy has now cost 404 lives and the (almost worse) life changing injuries/wounds to 100s more.

The Brits should (quietly yet forcefully) explain to the yanks that the "special relationship" has been stretched to breaking point and that they should now go find some other 'patsy' to tag along behind them like a pet dog.
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Old 03-08-2012   #942
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Afghanistan: we owe it to all those who have sacrificed their lives to see this mission successfully concluded

Remove the man from office ASAP.


He's either lying to the public or an idiot who falls into the sunk costs fallacy in one of the worst topics imaginable for this classic mistake.

He's unacceptable - no further proof should be required.
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Old 03-08-2012   #943
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Remove the man from office ASAP.


He's either lying to the public or an idiot who falls into the sunk costs fallacy in one of the worst topics imaginable for this classic mistake.

He's unacceptable - no further proof should be required.
All true.

I don't have the time to sit down and produce a piece that I would if I were in his position. Difficult... very difficult.

He begins:

Quote:
... the mission is necessary for national security.
He ends:

Quote:
...our national security requires us to see the job through and we owe it to the all-too-many who have sacrificed their lives to see this mission successfully concluded. This is a volatile region from which threats to Britain and our allies may continue to emerge. Walking away is not an option. I know that our nation will continue to stand by our Armed Forces and the sacrifices they and their families make.
His whole premise is based on delusion...
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Old 03-08-2012   #944
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All true.

I don't have the time to sit down and produce a piece that I would if I were in his position. Difficult... very difficult.

He begins:



He ends:



His whole premise is based on delusion...
A delusion that's more palatable to the British public, than the truth of a botched nation building exercise.

That said, if you were read the comment on The Guardian we (the British) are there so the Americans can build a pipeline or some other crap.
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Old 03-08-2012   #945
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A delusion that's more palatable to the British public, than the truth of a botched nation building exercise.

That said, if you were read the comment on The Guardian we (the British) are there so the Americans can build a pipeline or some other crap.
Not found... I presume a reader's comment?

But good to see you still around and thanks for the steer to The Guardian where I found another depressing Frank Ledwidge article on Afghanistan:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...ivilian-deaths

Saw a reference there to a book "No Worse Enemy: The Inside Story of the Chaotic Struggle for Afghanistan" by Ben Anderson: http://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Worse-Ene...1210580&sr=1-1. Do you have a comment on this book perhaps?

...and finally from friends in the UK I read a dark mood over the continued presence in Afghanistan. Do you have an opinion?

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Old 03-08-2012   #946
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Comments on a rather crass cartoonhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...th-afghanistan.

What a poorly written article! I found myself having to re-read paragraphs more than usual. Someone misquoting Clausewitz, bloody hell, what a world we live in. I need to stop reading the comments, people's idiocy makes me angry. I haven't read the book, I do like Ben Anderson's documentaries though.

I really don't know anymore. You have to ask why we're actually there, what we are achieving and what will the end result be.

The answers to all of those questions are far from simple and have been covered in this thread before.

I'm not sure it even matters anymore.
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Old 03-14-2012   #947
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...and finally from friends in the UK I read a dark mood over the continued presence in Afghanistan. Do you have an opinion?
The latest polling (Ipsos MORI annual polling on the British Army) shows some interesting statistics:

"We are making progress in Afghanistan (57%), and we should stay (56%), however there is a dichotomy as few believe that we will succeed (36%)."

That I think sums it up. The public does not think that we can succeed, the timeline for withdrawal has been written and increasingly the question is being asked "why?"

When asking how important an issue Afghanistan is one does however have to remember that the same polling indicates that:

"Defence is considered to be relatively unimportant (9%) compared to the economy (62%)".
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Old 03-14-2012   #948
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The latest polling (Ipsos MORI annual polling on the British Army) shows some interesting statistics:

"We are making progress in Afghanistan (57%), and we should stay (56%), however there is a dichotomy as few believe that we will succeed (36%)."

That I think sums it up. The public does not think that we can succeed, the timeline for withdrawal has been written and increasingly the question is being asked "why?"

When asking how important an issue Afghanistan is one does however have to remember that the same polling indicates that:

"Defence is considered to be relatively unimportant (9%) compared to the economy (62%)".
Good to see you are still around (if only sporadically and fleetingly).

Had a little spike in public interest after the recent six KIA from the jumbo IED. yes?

Two questions (if I may)...

Any change in your (or the official) view on six month tours?

Should the tosser(s) who insist on the continued use of the Warrior (flat bottomed vehicles) be considered criminally liable?

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Old 03-14-2012   #949
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Originally Posted by JMA View Post
Good to see you are still around (if only sporadically and fleetingly).

Had a little spike in public interest after the recent six KIA from the jumbo IED. yes?

Two questions (if I may)...

Any change in your (or the official) view on six month tours?

Should the tosser(s) who insist on the continued use of the Warrior (flat bottomed vehicles) be considered criminally liable?
I think the liability should lie with the idiots at the MoD who pissed away billions through poor aquisition. When it results in the deaths of soldiers in the field and the overall weakening of our armed forces, heads should roll.

I don't know of any change to the six month tour, it would be an extremely hard sell. As far as I'm aware the six soldiers killed last week were sent off ahead of the main force for the handover. Anyone here still in the forces with a recent tour under their belt that could tell us how the handover is managed these days? Certainly my impression that it's handled a little better.
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Old 03-15-2012   #950
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I think the liability should lie with the idiots at the MoD who pissed away billions through poor aquisition. When it results in the deaths of soldiers in the field and the overall weakening of our armed forces, heads should roll.
I agree.

However, perhaps more so in this case it is the misapplication of resources (which otherwise would have suited another - IED free - theatre perfectly satisfactorily) and the misapplication of troops to task which should also be considered.

I hesitate to use the word COIN for the simple reason that the yanks have got hold of the word and are jerking the semantics around to the extent that it no longer resembles the term the Brits used in Malaya or we used in Rhodesia. In fact they don't even know what it means themselves.

So lets talk rather of a theatre where the insurgency calls for high mobility to deal with an elusive enemy mingling with the population.

So what do the Brits do? They start to deploy mechanised troops (who still retain the old cavalry mentality that a third class ride is better than a first class walk) who are wedded to their vehicles and proceeded to apply their mechanised troops in pointless tactical ways (remember the mowing the grass fiasco?)

It would soon have become evident that the armoured vehicles were in fact death traps. Read Toby Harnden's - 'Dead Men Risen' - I quote:

Quote:
The Vikings, they said, were coffins on tracks. Soldiers were threatening to refuse to get back into one. Young men were vomiting before patrols.
How the hell did it ever get to that?

So IMHO the 'crime' is that once it became apparent that the vehicles available to troops in theatre were indeed coffins on tracks/wheels nothing significant was done about it (and British troops continued to be tied to the predictable use of these coffins on the limited road network... a mine and IED layers dream).

SO you are correct... someone should be held to account for this.

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I don't know of any change to the six month tour, it would be an extremely hard sell. As far as I'm aware the six soldiers killed last week were sent off ahead of the main force for the handover. Anyone here still in the forces with a recent tour under their belt that could tell us how the handover is managed these days? Certainly my impression that it's handled a little better.
I bought Ben Anderson's - 'No Worse Enemy' on Kindle (referred to above) and he too comments on what others elsewhere (and me here) have been harping on about the utility of six month tours:

Quote:
If I were Afghan, especially in Helmand, I certainly wouldn't be picking sides. Certainly not if the American Marines and British soldiers who were asking me to are replaced every six months, and will be gone altogether within two to three years.
There are ways around the problems associated with 'long' tour lengths. Some have been discussed here but I am assured that none are possible within the confines of the Brit military bureaucratic system. That then, quite simply, makes it a self inflicted wound. It imposes a limitation on the troops to the extent that it makes the war unwinnable (if this war was ever winnable in the first place).

As to hand overs, I don't know but what I do know is that all Afghans know that a change in troops is about the take place and the Taliban has plenty of time to arrange an appropriate reception for the NFGs (to use an American term).
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Old 03-15-2012   #951
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I agree.

However, perhaps more so in this case it is the misapplication of resources (which otherwise would have suited another - IED free - theatre perfectly satisfactorily) and the misapplication of troops to task which should also be considered.

I hesitate to use the word COIN for the simple reason that the yanks have got hold of the word and are jerking the semantics around to the extent that it no longer resembles the term the Brits used in Malaya or we used in Rhodesia. In fact they don't even know what it means themselves.

So lets talk rather of a theatre where the insurgency calls for high mobility to deal with an elusive enemy mingling with the population.

So what do the Brits do? They start to deploy mechanised troops (who still retain the old cavalry mentality that a third class ride is better than a first class walk) who are wedded to their vehicles and proceeded to apply their mechanised troops in pointless tactical ways (remember the mowing the grass fiasco?)

It would soon have become evident that the armoured vehicles were in fact death traps. Read Toby Harnden's - 'Dead Men Risen' - I quote:



How the hell did it ever get to that?

So IMHO the 'crime' is that once it became apparent that the vehicles available to troops in theatre were indeed coffins on tracks/wheels nothing significant was done about it (and British troops continued to be tied to the predictable use of these coffins on the limited road network... a mine and IED layers dream).

SO you are correct... someone should be held to account for this.



I bought Ben Anderson's - 'No Worse Enemy' on Kindle (referred to above) and he too comments on what others elsewhere (and me here) have been harping on about the utility of six month tours:



There are ways around the problems associated with 'long' tour lengths. Some have been discussed here but I am assured that none are possible within the confines of the Brit military bureaucratic system. That then, quite simply, makes it a self inflicted wound. It imposes a limitation on the troops to the extent that it makes the war unwinnable (if this war was ever winnable in the first place).

As to hand overs, I don't know but what I do know is that all Afghans know that a change in troops is about the take place and the Taliban has plenty of time to arrange an appropriate reception for the NFGs (to use an American term).
You're right, situation with the Warrior is exactly the same as it was with the Viking. Both vehicles designed for use in a war that never happened and unsuitable to this kind of conflict. Reading Dead Men Risen, I shocked that the disconnect between the "frontline" and Bastion was as bad as it was, let alone between theatre and White Hall.

The six month tour really hamstrings the effort, while I'm sure six months seems like a long time to the Toms on the ground, it makes no sense when conducting counter-insurgency operations. Building up a rapport with the locals is crucial.

A recent series about the Royal Marines on tour there last summer illustrated this point nicely for me. There was a Royal Navy intelligence guy there who had learned Pashto, a great skill obviously. All the locals knew him, they even nicknamed him Sikandar Khan, the Persian name of Alexander The Great. The locals clearly had a lot of affection for the guy. The problem was of course that the end of his tour, he'd be gone and all that effort would go to waste. Now I'm not suggesting that soldiers stay indefinitely, there's not real solution to this problem.
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Old 03-15-2012   #952
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This is slightly off topic, but it made me chucle. Somtimes satire can say it best.
From The Daily Mash: Predator drone visiting Afghan families on condolence mission. http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/w...-201203135003/

Quote:
Afghan subsistence farmer Samoud Jalal said: "The murders have this city on a knife-edge. When the knock came at the door my son had his AK-47 ready to fire. But when my eyes met its multi-spectral targeting system and it mechanically intoned 'I am sorry for your loss of family, friend or member of your religious community,' I felt a sincerity I had never felt from any American.
and

Quote:
The drone is programmed to offer sympathy to all civilians who have reported the loss of a family member, or limb, to US troops, and has more than 3,000 stock phrases of consolation including 'There, there', 'Life goes on,' and 'You will be reunited, inshallah, in paradise'
Jokes aside, while the use of armed UAVs seems on the increase, their use is still prone to the same human error and faulty intelligence that has caused the bulk of civilian deaths in Afghanistan.
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Old 03-15-2012   #953
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Good to see you are still around (if only sporadically and fleetingly).

Had a little spike in public interest after the recent six KIA from the jumbo IED. yes?

Two questions (if I may)...

Any change in your (or the official) view on six month tours?

Should the tosser(s) who insist on the continued use of the Warrior (flat bottomed vehicles) be considered criminally liable?
I've not noticed any enduring upswing in interest as a result of the six KIA. What interest there was lasted a day or two and focused heavily on the human impact.

Six month tours. My offical view remains that they are bad The army's view I believe remains that they suffice and that sufficient mitigation has been done in terms of extended tours for specialists etc. Don't shoot me I'm only the messenger

Use of Warrior. One cannot protect against all risks and Warriors have been proof against most risks in Theatre. It is liked by the troops using it. In Iraq it was the vehicle of choice to move and fight in. There is one infantry company of Warrior in theatre and it is used for those tasks and in those areas that are appropriate to the vehicle. From what I have heard of the IED in question it was of a size that even a V shaped hull is unlikely to have countered the threat. The vehicle fleet and TTPs continually evolve as the threat evolves; it has been ever thus.
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Old 03-17-2012   #954
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I've not noticed any enduring upswing in interest as a result of the six KIA. What interest there was lasted a day or two and focused heavily on the human impact.
A nation numbed?

Quote:
Six month tours. My offical view remains that they are bad The army's view I believe remains that they suffice and that sufficient mitigation has been done in terms of extended tours for specialists etc. Don't shoot me I'm only the messenger
Here is another messenger:

Quote:
“If I were Afghan, especially in Helmand, I certainly wouldn’t be picking sides. Certainly not if the American Marines or British soldiers who were asking me to are replaced every six months, and will be gone altogether within two to three years. If someone built me a school or repaired my mosque, I would undoubtedly smile, shake their hand, maybe even make them a cup of tea or pose for a photograph. But this would be simple pragmatism. It would not mean I offered them my loyalty, much less that I had rejected the Taliban. The nature and detail of this pragmatism is entirely lost on idealistic foreign commanders.” - Ben Anderson from ‘No Worse Enemy’
BTW... pleas not to shoot the messenger are good for 2012? Got to learn to take it on the chin like what happened here in 2010/11

Quote:
Use of Warrior. One cannot protect against all risks and Warriors have been proof against most risks in Theatre. It is liked by the troops using it. In Iraq it was the vehicle of choice to move and fight in. There is one infantry company of Warrior in theatre and it is used for those tasks and in those areas that are appropriate to the vehicle. From what I have heard of the IED in question it was of a size that even a V shaped hull is unlikely to have countered the threat. The vehicle fleet and TTPs continually evolve as the threat evolves; it has been ever thus.
"vehicle of choice" ? ... or the best of the unsuitable crap available given the local IED threat?

I suggest that the single greatest military failure of this particular Afghanistan war has been the inability of the Brits (and other ISAF) to adapt and counter the IED threat. This to the degree of criminal negligence... IMHO.

Quite frankly when the deputy-commander of Task Force Paladin states the obvious then you realise there is no hope:

Quote:
"When we come up with measures to defeat their tactics, they change them. When we introduce new counter-measures they change again."
Well yes... you #%*#*! How long did you take to figure that out? Now go figure how these Iron Age relics are able to out-think the combined intellect of the ISAF?

Hint: Learn from Chess... learn to think two moves ahead.

The yanks have got their own problems... but the Brits have IMHO run out of excuses. I copy from an earlier post of mine:

Quote:
Somewhat in support in this is the British manual 'Keeping the Peace' Part 2 - Tactics and Training - 1963.
332. Leadership and battle discipline.. Fighting an underground enemy probably requires a higher standard of junior leadership than any other type of warfare yet experienced. ... Command often has to be decentralized and the training of junior commanders must, therefore, be directed towards giving them the ability and confidence to make sound decisions and act on their own initiative.
Still churning out junior leaders incapable of using initiative in close combat. There is no excuse.

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Old 03-18-2012   #955
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Still up to your old, tired rant.

1. 6 month tours. Would it make a difference if a guy was there for 2 years and left? Is there a substantive difference in areas where U.S. soldiers were for 15 months vice other guys for 6 months? The guy is still leaving, the local making the choice knows that and the insurgent knows that.

2. Lack of ability to adapt and counter the IED threat. Care to back that up with anything substantive? Do you know the stats of IEDs found/recovered to those that hit our guys? The enemy gets lucky once in a while, but you write as if NATO forces bumble around with no clue of what to do.

3. Junior leaders incapable of initiative in close combat. Do you have anything to prove this statement?
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Old 03-18-2012   #956
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Still up to your old, tired rant.
Ah... someone forced you to comment?



Quote:
1. 6 month tours. Would it make a difference if a guy was there for 2 years and left? Is there a substantive difference in areas where U.S. soldiers were for 15 months vice other guys for 6 months? The guy is still leaving, the local making the choice knows that and the insurgent knows that.
Are those the only permutations you can come up with? Still too junior perhaps?

Work on the mindset that there is always a better way. Intelligent officers with enquiring minds would (or rather should have) by now started to figure it all out, yes?

Oh yes (and I wouldn't have thought it necessary to mention) that one would tend to build the deployment schedule around operational and continuity considerations, yes?

The wise old soldier around here has said (something like to the effect) that the US is prepared to lose small wars rather than inconvenience themselves by making any changes to make these interventions more efficient and effective.

The Brits much the same.

Quote:
2. Lack of ability to adapt and counter the IED threat. Care to back that up with anything substantive? Do you know the stats of IEDs found/recovered to those that hit our guys? The enemy gets lucky once in a while, but you write as if NATO forces bumble around with no clue of what to do.
I probably know more than you think. Now if you dust off your doctrine manuals you will find that one of the uses of minefields is to channel the enemy. Try and get your head around that will you?

Contrary to repeated nonsense spoken about the supposed 'cowardly' use of IEDs by the Taliban they are in fact more intelligent than given credit for.

75% plus ISAF casualties over the past few years are from IEDs and the wounds of those who survive are so horrific that they probably wish they were dead.

So what is the real effect on the ground? Read. Try to find the reality behind the verbal reports (from those who have been there) and then grasp the horrible reality about who has the initiative.

To help you on this journey read Ben Anderson's recent book 'No Worse Enemy' . See if you can pick up patterns. See if you can figure something out.

Remember... there has got to be a better way.

Quote:
3. Junior leaders incapable of initiative in close combat. Do you have anything to prove this statement?
Ask some senior Brit and find out how badly the tight ROE and operational constraints from Northern Island destroyed the use of initiative at junior leader level. Once done ask them if this has been rectified since. Got it?

You must be a captain by now so you should start to have more answers than having to ask questions... got it?
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Old 03-19-2012   #957
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6 month tours are currently the norm but it has been floated that 9 month tours should be considered. This would alleviate the pressure on the operational training cycle and in addition provide longer time for units in Th.

Your comments regarding initiative have no basis. Yes, ROE are stringent but they do not inhibit the inherent right to self defence. Junior commanders have shown innovation while working within the constraints to conduct successful operations.
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Old 03-20-2012   #958
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6 month tours are currently the norm but it has been floated that 9 month tours should be considered. This would alleviate the pressure on the operational training cycle and in addition provide longer time for units in Th.
Bertie welcome!

Back in this thread the issue of short tours and the 'short termism' of the Brit approach has been covered pretty exhaustively. A re-read of Matt Cavanagh's classic essay from The Spectator Operation amnesia may jog the memory.

As I said to the Canadian youngster there are more permutations that those available under the current 'harmony guidelines' or other legislative, bureaucratic or mental straight jackets. In the days of Empire the Brits knew how to do it. They sent an expeditionary force to a place to deal with the 'troubles' and some times had to top up the force levels if they found they had bitten off more than they could chew. Inevitably the Brits won the last battle (which was the one that counted) then it was home for (almost) everyone for tea and medals.

There was continuity. The local theatre expertise built up over time and was retained in theatre.

Admittedly the best approach to do the war justice is not possible because the will is not there to make the necessary changes. This will not stop me stating the obvious just because the painful truth may irritate those sitting in the camp of those unable or unwilling to figure out a solution to this issue.

Quote:
Your comments regarding initiative have no basis. Yes, ROE are stringent but they do not inhibit the inherent right to self defence. Junior commanders have shown innovation while working within the constraints to conduct successful operations.
You have just provided that basis

Surely the Brit troops are sent to Afghanistan armed with more than 'the inherent right to self defence'? What happened to sending the troops out to find the enemy and kill them?

Perhaps the constrained mindset from Northern Ireland has become so ingrained that independent deployments (over days) by sections commanded by a corporal are no longer even considered?

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Old 03-20-2012   #959
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Default Paddy Ashdown on Afghanistan - 2008

Ashdown: What I told Gordon Brown about Afghanistan

Found this yesterday. Good for Paddy his comment has stood the test of time.

He said (amongst other things):

Quote:
“We do not have enough troops, aid or international will to make Afghanistan much different from what it has been for the last 1000 years – a society in which the gun, drugs and tribalism have always played a part. And even if we had all of these in sufficient quantities, we would not have them for sufficient time – around 25 years or so – to make the aim of fundamentally altering the nature of Afghanistan, achievable."
404 KIA and 1,000 odd maimed... there should be consequences for the decision makers!

Now Paddy clearly had a better grip of the Afghanistan problem than the US Administration and the Brit government's of the day. Least said the better about the competence of the last two (more) US Presidents and Blair/Brown. Young David started well but his tenure can be can be described as follows: "After initial promise David failed to develop his potential as a statesman and leader of the nation."

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Old 04-26-2012   #960
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Default Two parts of the jigsaw in 2006

Hat tip to a "boots on the ground" input on FRI, even if not supported by a document or source it probably fits well into what happened in 2006:
Quote:
I remember back in 06 and 07 when the human terrain started to shift a little. What I didn’t know then was the tide of unease flowing through the population was (in part) triggered by the arrival of the British army in Helmand. Apparently the SAS and their American counterparts had conducted a comprehensive study of the Helmand in 2005 and had come up with a really good deployment plan. They recommended to the army that it fortify the two largest towns, engage in reconstruction in those towns, leave the current governor in place even though he was a Narco Khan, and most importantly, stay out of the rest of the province. Her Majesties government instead insisted that Karzai remove the governor, focused on poppy eradication and, based on intel that there were only 420 Taliban in the province, decided they could ruck up to densely populated areas and kill them while ignoring all the other pricks milling around as if they were gliding through the ####ing matrix.
Later there is a comment, with a similar caveat:
Quote:
In ‘06 the British requested ANA reinforcement for Lashkar Gah. We deployed the Kandak’s second company, along with their ETTs and some SF guys. The British commander on site gladly accepted the ANA, but told the US troops “You lot are too aggressive. We don’t need you.” The ANA looked at the situation and told the ETTs, if you aren’t staying, neither are we.” The whole caravan mounted up and headed back to FOB Rescorla. Since when is being aggressive a bad thing in a combat soldier?
Link:http://freerangeinternational.com/blog/?p=4808#comments

The citations are a minor point within a wide-ranging article, the focus being the period living with the Afghans and the arrival of a contractor that contributed to living within the wire - will locate a suitable thread for that.
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